Texas Standard for December 7, 2021

The U.S. Justice Department files suit against the State of Texas alleging that the new redistricting maps violate the Voting Rights Act. We’ll have details. Other stories we’re tracking the first case of the newly named omicron COVID-19 variant discovered in Texas. We’ll look at what we know and what we don’t. And: After years of talking about a massive infrastructure project to defend the Texas coast from hurricanes and flooding, bipartisan momentum finally building in Washington. We’ll hear the latest. Also: Turning a spotlight on a highly respected Black artist from Texas, who’s avoided the spotlight for years. Those stories and much more today on the Texas Standard:

By Texas StandardDecember 7, 2021 9:30 am,

On this date 80 years ago, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor — drawing the United States into World War II. Among the Texans who fought back against the attack that Sunday morning, was a U.S. Navy cook third class named Doris Miller. He became the first Black American to be awarded the Navy Cross, the highest decoration for valor in combat after the Medal of Honor. A school would be named for him in Houston, and in 2020, an aircraft carrier was named in his honor.

Here are the stories on Texas Standard for Tuesday, December 7, 2021.

DOJ Lawsuit Against Texas Redistricting

The Department of Justice is suing the State of Texas. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland says the state’s new redistricting maps “deny or abridge the rights of Latino and Black voters to vote on account of their race, color or membership in a language-minority group.” Travis Crum, associate law professor at Washington University in St. Louis joins us with an overview.

Omicron Confirmed in Texas

Concerns over the omicron COVID-19 variant showing up in Texas became a reality on Monday. State health officials confirmed the positive case of a 44-year-old woman in Harris County. Karen Brooks Harper covers health and human services for the Texas Tribune and has an update.

Bexar County Court Child Welfare Funding

Bexar County leads the state in child removals and advocates have said current domestic violence levels are at epidemic levels. But $1.8 million in funding to expand courts in Bexar County is stuck in a bureaucratic maze, waiting for approval. Texas Public Radio’s Paul Flahive reports.

Bipartisan Ike Dike Proposal

A flood barrier to protect Gulf Coast communities including Houston and Galveston from floods and storm surges has a catchy name – but the Ike Dike has yet to be built. That could soon change. A bipartisan group of Texas lawmakers in Washington is now hoping to get the project initiated at the federal level. Ben Wermund, Washington correspondent for the Houston Chronicle, joins us today.

El Paso Farm Workers

Carlos Marentes has spent decades fighting for farm worker rights. He was born in Mexico and both of his parents were farm workers. He also worked in the fields himself – and saw firsthand the exploitation and abuse of vulnerable farm workers. He now leads a center for agricultural workers in the El Paso border region. As part of NPR’s Next Generation Radio Project, Marentes spoke with María Ramos Pacheco about how he began his work and how it’s changed during the pandemic.

Artist Kermit Oliver

Kermit Oliver is one of Texas’ finest artists. He is the only American to design scarves for Hermès. He was the first Black artist to be represented by a major gallery in Houston. And he was named Texas State Artist in 2017. Still, you’d be excused for not knowing Kermit Oliver’s name – it’s an understatement to say he doesn’t seek the limelight. But he did speak with the Texas Standard’s Michael Marks recently at a new exhibition of his work in Waco.

Yogurt Shop Murders 30th Anniversary

It’s a case that’s haunted Austin for three decades: four teenage girls, killed in a yogurt shop in 1991. The killer or killers have not been brought to justice. Now, 30 years later, many wonder if the case will ever be solved. For more on this grim anniversary, we’re joined by Tony Plohetski, investigative reporter for ABC affiliate KVUE and the Austin American-Statesman.

All this and Texas News Roundup, plus Social Media Editor Wells Dunbar with the talk of Texas.

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